The Cathedral was built in the same place where the Main Church was located in the New City. From the wood building the bells rang announcing the Glorious Dawn of October 9, 1920. It was elevated to Cathedral on September 14, 1838.
The church of neo-gothic style is the work of architect Paolo Russo who designed it in 1924 for the Construction General Society. Russo led the first stage of the construction until 1934; from 1941 to 1958, the project was in charge of Spanish architect Juan Orus Madinya (1892-1987), who designed the façade and carried out the interior works following the original sketches of Russo. From 1958, the leadership was in the hands of Chilean architect Alamiro Gonzalez.
In 1949, the central nave was completed and in 1956, the towers were inaugurated with their respective needles. A clock was placed in each one of the towers; one of them marked the tides of the Guayas River. The upper stained glass windows were placed that same year, which represented allegories of the Apostles and evocations of the passion of Christ.
The ornamentations of the towers belong to sculptor Emilio Soro and the Altar of the Lady of Perpetual Help corresponds to artist Enrico Pacciani, which was crafted in Carrara marble.
If the visitor stops at the sidewalk of the Seminario Park (Iguana Park), he will appreciate two imposing towers that finish in gothic needles. A little bit higher there is a statue to Santiago el Mayor, and the center of the façade has rosette stained glass windows, whose colored glasses filter the light towards the interior of the temple, creating a beautiful effect.
When crossing the street to reach the portal there is a pointed arch that has four bass-reliefs representing a bull, an angel, an eagle and a lion, all with wings, and also a book that symbolizes the emblems of will, knowledge, silence and boldness.
To walk underneath the tall gothic arches is to perceive a spatial rhythm and a symphony of light that comes from the upper stained glass windows made by Guillermo de Larrazabal. The church is full of light and the steps that lead to the Main Altar reveal, in silence, the ten splendors of the Jewish-Christian tradition. At the transept of the two naves, the temple resembles the body of the crucified, in whose heart is reflected the light that descends from the upper apse. Turning to the left there is the Altar to the Lady of Perpetual Help, which was crafted in Carrara marble by artist Enrico Pacciani. The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament can be observed at the northern area, and the burial chamber of the church is located under the Main Altar.
Processions:The church organized three processions every year, which are devoted to the Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Christ the King. Besides, the religious tour called “Route of the seven churches” also takes place.
Corpus Christi (Body of Christ): it aims to exalt Jesus Christ; the faithful accept that the body of Jesus is in the consecrated host and in the chalice of his blood.
The pilgrimage is carried out during the last week of May. The image of Corpus Christi departs from the Cathedral and tours several streets and avenues of the city, on board of a float escorted by priests, which are accompanied by hundreds of penitents. The procession starts at 19h00 and includes four stops or Stations, before returning to the church. The first is located in Baquerizo Moreno Avenue and 9 de Octubre Boulevard; the second stop is the church of “Nuestra Señora de los Angeles” (Our Lady of Angels); the third Station is the Basilica of La Merced and the fourth is located in Rocafuerte Avenue and Tomas Martinez Street, until reaching the Santo Domingo Church.
Sacred Heart of Jesus: it is carried out in the month of June to venerate the Heart of Jesus. The procession includes nine churches located at the city’s downtown and departs from the Cathedral continuing to Chimborazo Avenue, Clemente Ballen Street and Chile Avenue until reaching the San Jose Church. Then, the pilgrims return to the Cathedral.
The nine churches that are visited are: San Jose, San Alejo, Santo Domingo, San Agustin, La Merced, San Francisco, Victoria, and Medalla Milagrosa (behind the Institute of Social Security known as Social Security Fund).
Christ the King:This procession takes place on November 20 (according to the liturgical calendar), and starts at 18h00. The image of Christ the King, painted in a canvas and escorted by several priests who walk ahead of it, departs from the Cathedral to reach the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Carmen Hill. The pilgrimage takes about an hour and approximately 2.000 faithful participate while praying the rosary and singing worship songs. The procession comprises a tour through Chimborazo Avenue, Baquerizo Moreno Avenue and Loja Street, where the pilgrims take the ascending street to Carmen Hill that reaches the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after climbing its 166 steps. According to history, Pope Pio XI established the festivities of Christ the King in 1925, in an effort to highlight Jesus’ identity as King and Master of the Universe.
The tradition started in Guayaquil in 1926, time in which Ecuador was ruled by a liberal government that prohibited public faith manifestations and did not recognize the Church as an authority, therefore, there was no ecclesial authority in the city; Guayaquil was apostolically administered by the bishop of Riobamba, Monsignor Carlos Maria de la Torre Nieto.
Despite the adversities, a group of women motivated by a deep Christian love, which were part of the Catholic Social Action of Guayaquil, requested permission to the Monsignor to establish the festivities of Christ the King, under the papal decree and the existing Religious Law established on June 5, 1895.
The first festivities were celebrated on a Sunday, October 21 of 1926, at the location of the American Park (currently Rodolfo Baquerizo Moreno Square), which had the participation of a massive crowd.
During that time, the tradition of placing the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in windows and balconies of the houses of Guayaquil, was also established, which was accompanied by the Ecuadorian flag, as a reminder of the consecration of the country to the Heart of Jesus and a symbol of the “no rupture between Catholicism and patriotism”.
The costume of adorning windows and balconies with the image of Christ the King belongs to a Christian tradition established in the XVI century, in which, the image of the crucified Christ is being complemented by the image of a triumphant Christ in all his Glory.
Route of the seven churches
The Catholics of Guayaquil are very devoted and faithful people and have faith rituals that form part of a cultural tradition of the city, which have become a tourist attraction that today is known as “Route of Faith” within the tourist and religious spheres.
The tour of the seven churches is a tradition in Guayaquil, which is carried out mainly on Holy Thursday to visit several heritage temples located in the Historic Center of the city. It departs from the Metropolitan Cathedral and continues to Pedro Carbo and Eloy Alfaro avenues until reaching the first stop at San Jose Church where the procession starts.
First stop: the procession starts in San Jose Church, located in Eloy Alfaro Avenue and Manabi Street; a building that dates back to 1905 and possesses a wealth statuary heritage, which comprises images crafted by Italian sculptor Enrico Pacciani. Visiting hours: from 08h00 to 18h30.
Second stop: once crossing the overpass of Eloy Alfaro Avenue, the procession reaches the second stop at San Alejo Church, which is located in Eloy Alfaro Avenue between Olmedo Boulevard and Joaquin Chiriboga Street, opposite to Montalvo park. The church operated as vice-parish in 1827, and was canonically established in 1867. Visiting hours: from 08h00 to 18h30.
Third stop: departing from San Alejo church, the pilgrimage continues through the avenues Eloy Alfaro, Pedro Carbo and Rocafuerte until Santo Domingo church, located in Rocafuerte Avenue and Julian Coronel Street, Colon Square, at the foot of Santa Ana Hill. This church was built in 1548, being the oldest in the city. Visiting hours: from 07h00 to 19h30.
Fourth stop: from Santo Domingo church the procession continues through the streets Loja, Cordova and Luis Urdaneta. Then it crosses Pedro Moncayo Avenue until arriving to San Agustin church, located in Luis Urdaneta Street and 6 de Marzo Avenue. The current temple made of concrete dates back to 1913. Visiting hours: from 07h00 to 19h30.
Fifth stop: leaving from San Agustin, the pilgrims take 6 de Marzo Avenue, continue to avenues Victor Manuel Rendon and Pedro Carbo where La Merced church is located. The temple dates back to 1896 when it was made of wood and was burnt in the great fire of that year. The concrete church was finished in 1936. Visiting hours: from 07h00 to 19h00.
Sixth stop: from La Merced church, the procession continues through Cordova Avenue and 9 de Octubre Boulevard to reach Nuestra Señora de los Angeles (Our Lady of Angels) church, best known as San Francisco, since it was established by the Franciscans. The church is located in 9 de Octubre Boulevard and Pedro Carbo Avenue. Visiting hours: from 08h00 to 18h30.
Seventh stop: finally, the penitents take Velez Street and continue to Chile Avenue and Clemente Ballen Street to reach the seventh and last stop, which is the Metropolitan Cathedral Saint Peter the Apostle, traditional temple of the city that is located in Chimborazo Avenue between Clemente Ballen and 10 de Agosto streets, opposite to Seminario park. Visiting hours: from 07h00 to 19h00.